Austar: $7m loss, but subscribers up

Regional pay television operator Austar United Communications has posted a first half net loss, but says subscriber numbers have increased and that its outlook is positive.

Austar today reported a net loss of $7.603 million for the 2008 June half year, compared to a $24.682 million profit in the previous corresponding period.

Underlying profit, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 28 per cent to $101 million.

Total television subscribers had risen by 26,287 to 695,073 since the end of 2007, on improved sales and a strong take-up of Austar’s MyStar personal digital recorder offering.

Average monthly customer churn for the second quarter of calendar 2008 fell to 1.32 per cent, from 1.53 per cent in the first quarter.

Total average revenue per user (ARPU) for the second quarter grew 2.4 per cent to $78.07 from the last quarter of 2007.

Austar said its gross margin rose 15 per cent to $171 million while its EBITDA margin increased 33 per cent.

Chief executive John Porter said that momentum in new subscriber growth for the regional pay TV group has continued in July, and the group now has more than 700,000 customers.

He said the growth occurred “even in challenging economic times”.

“In the currency environment everyone, businesses and households, have to make choices about the best way to manage their finances,” he said. “People still aspire to quality entertainment services that provide value for money for their families.”

Source: West Australian / The Australian

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